The Order of Transcendental Phenomenological Inquiry that Wills to Return to the “Things Themselves”

  • Fred Kersten
Part of the Contributions to Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 1)


The preceding chapters have sought to identify the various transcendental phenomenological refrainings from those positings in which the naturalness of my mental life consists so that, step by step, there are uncovered the layers of actional and passive oriented constituting of the real, objective world and of my real, objective mental living in the world. Even though a diversity of Husserl’s texts were consulted as a guide for establishing the phenomenological discriminations and their correlative reductive unbuildings (and, correspondingly, by implication the various stages of reductive building-up to be elaborated in the second part of this book), the basic literary expression and philosophic touchstone has remained the definition of transcendental phenomenology expressed in the Introduction to the three books that comprise the uncompleted Ideas Pertaining to a Purely Descriptive, Eidetic Transcen-dentally Pure or Transcendental Phenomenology and to a Transcendental Phenomenological Philosophy.


Objective World Verbal Expression Real Thing Physical Thing Phenomenological Method 
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  1. 2.
    For a detailed account of Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology of essence, including the various significations of the term, “essence” (and cognate terms), see F. Kersten, “The Novelty of Husserl’s Phenomenology of Essence,” in Phenomenon logical Perspectives. Historical and Systematic Essays in Honor of Herbert Spiegelberg, pp. 61–92. It is often forgotten that Husserl’s discussion of “fact” and “essence” (like that of the will to return to the “things themselves”) has a specific polemical context; see ibid., section 1. The polemics need not be developed here, but unless one keeps it in mind Husserl’s intent and purpose is miscontrued as some sort of Platonistic metaphysics (Adorno) or as some sort of intuitional intellectualism (Levinas). See also Lothar Ely, Die Krise des Apriori in der transzendentalen Phänomenologie Edmund Husserls, Chapter One.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    What follows is based primarily on Husserl, Ideas, First Book, section 57ff., especially section 59. See also F. Kersten, “Phenomenology, History and Myth,” Phenomenology and Social Reality. Essays in Memory of Alfred Schütz, pp. 261ff.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    See Kersten, “The Novelty of Husserl’s Phenomenology of Essence,” pp. 83ff.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See above, Chapter Two.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See Husserl, Ideas, section 149ff.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    See below, Chapter Nine.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, section 34.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    See above, Chapter One, and Chapter One, note 24.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    See above, pp. 37ff.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    See Kersten, “The Novelty of Husserl’s Phenomenology of Essence,” pp. 80ff.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    See below, Chapter Nine. See above, pp. 56f.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    A very similar view had already been worked out in 1913 by Heinrich Hofmann in his Göttingen dissertation, “Untersuchungen über den Empfindungsbegriff,” pp. 52ff. It now seems clear that Hofmann’s study is in part based on Husserl’s 1907 lectures now published as Ding und Raum. Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Husserl, Cartesian Meditations, pp. 139ff.Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    Husserl, Formal and Transcendental Logic, pp. 272f.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    Ibid., p. 271.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    I have dealt with this topic at length in “The Lifeworld Revisited,” Research in Phenomenology, I, pp. 33–62, and “The Life-Concept and the Life-Conviction,” pp. 107–128.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    See above, pp. 7ff. In a limited way, Herbert Spiegelberg’s The Phenomenological Movement may be regarded as providing some of the basic materials for such a history because it is Husserl’s phenomenology that provides the principle of selection for inclusion of those who are to be accounted “phenomenologists.” The limits lie in the lack of means to adjudicate differences among those included.Google Scholar
  18. 21.
    In this connection, see F. Kersten, “The Constancy Hypothesis in the Social Sciences,” section 2f.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    See Spiegelberg, ibid., pp. 92f.; and Wilhelm Szilasi, Einführung in die Phänomenologie Husserls, Chapters I, II.Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    The former would seem to be the purport of Rudolf Boehm, Von Gesichtspunkt der Phänomenologie. Husserl Studien, pp. 21 Iff.; the latter would seem to be the purport of Iso Kern, “The Three Ways to the Transcendental Phenomenological Reduction in the Philosophy of Edmund Husserl,” translated by F. Elliston and P. McCormick, in Husserl. Expositions and Appraisals, pp. 126ff. See also Richard M. Zaner, The Way of Phenomenology. Criticism as a Philosophical Discipline, Chapter I, especially pp. 71ff.; Zaner actually examines various ways to phenomenology, rather than “the way” of the title of his book. Moreover, the ways to phenomenology are not just restricted for him to Husserl whose ways are pre-figured in philosophers before him, notably Hume and Kant. This charmingly written book is a valuable guide to the philosophical problems of phenomenology.Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    Kern, ibid., pp. 127ff.Google Scholar
  22. 30.
    Kern, p. 130.Google Scholar
  23. 32.
    Ibid., pp. 134, 130. See also Maurice Natanson, Edmund Husserl. Philosopher of Infinite Tasks, pp. 27ff., 55f., 65ff.Google Scholar
  24. 33.
    Kern, pp. 134f. “Abstraction,” as Kern records some of Husserl’s use of the term, is distinct from Husserl’s other uses, such as indicated above, pp. 47ff.Google Scholar
  25. 34.
    Kern, p. 136. See above, pp. 33f. for an answer to the criticism in terms of “motives” for exercising the transcendental phenom-enological epoché. As Kern states it, the problem seems to me to be a pseudo problem.Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    Kern, p. 137.Google Scholar
  27. 36.
    Kern, pp. 137f.; Boehm, p. 209.Google Scholar
  28. 37.
    Kern, pp. 139, 142.Google Scholar
  29. 38.
    See above, pp. 58ff. In addition, see the important remarks on this subject by Guido Kung, “The Phenomenological Reduction as Epoché and Explication,” in Husserl. Expositions and Appraisals, pp. 345f.Google Scholar
  30. 40.
    See Aron Gurwitsch, “The Place of Psychology in the System of Sciences,” “The Phenomenological and the Psychological Approach to Consciousness,” and “Critical Study of Husserl’s Nachwort” Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Kersten
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-Green BayUSA

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